Ann Arbor redux: Becton Dickinson and Co. buys medtech startup Accuri Cytometers

2/8/11Follow @xconomy

Treja-vu!

Becton, Dickinson and Company (NYSE:BDX) announced Monday it will acquire Accuri Cytometers in Ann Arbor, MI, for an undisclosed amount. Accuri, which makes devices that can count cells and chromosomes, is led by Jeff Williams and backed by Arborteum Ventures in Ann Arbor.

If this trio sounds familiar, it should. HandyLabs, another Ann Arbor-bred med tech startup, and Accuri Cytometers share the same CEO, investor, and buyer.

In 2009, BD purchased HandyLabs for $275 million. After completing the deal, HandyLabs CEO Jeff Williams went to Accuri Cytometers as its new leader. Aboretum Ventures in Ann Arbor funded both HandyLabs and Accuri Cytometers. (George Dunbar, an Aboretum venture partner declined to comment.)

You get all of that?

Let’s hope BD’s purchase of Accuri Cytometers goes off a little smoother than its previous deal, which turned controversial when BD eventually decided to shut down HandyLabs’s office in Ann Arbor.

That a promising local startup with local talent and local investors should suddenly go finito didn’t sit too well with Michiganders, especially with the state hurting for high-tech jobs.

“I’ve seen a lot of companies bought for a lot of money, but that’s about it,” says Scott Merz, president of MC3, an Ann Arbor-based medical device incubator.

The episode was a bit embarrassing for then Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder, a local venture capitalist who served as HandyLabs chairman at the time. Snyder went on to win the election nonetheless, of course.

This time, however, BD plans to keep Accuri Cytometers plant in Ann Arbor open, said company spokesman Colleen White.

At least for now.

“Accuri Cytometers’ offering of flow cytometers for a new audience of researchers will complement and broaden BD’s current offerings for life scientists,” BD president and chief operating officer Vincent A. Forlenza, said in a statement. “We believe that, once completed, this acquisition will enable BD to further contribute to medical and scientific advances, in line with our corporate purpose of helping all people live healthy lives.”


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